Today is World Mental Health Day. This day spreads awareness for the importance of looking after your mental health and wellbeing.
So I thought that I would share an essay about a song I wrote in January 2015 called ‘The Hoax’, that is about my struggles with an anxiety disorder.
I wrote this essay a couple of months after I wrote the song, which was during my toughest time with mental illness. So the tone of this piece represents purely how I was suffering with anxiety at the time.
I’m in a much better place now, but I thought it would be important to share how I was when I was in the midst of dealing with the worst of it.
I will be breaking down the song lyric by lyric, explaining the meanings behind every section.
VERSE 1 –
Spent my years with the price of my fears,
This reality was never meant to imprison me.
So I don’t know how to believe love is meant for me,
And wired in my destiny.
From up until now (2015) I have let fear control every part of my life.
With whatever decision I need to make, to the choice of words I use in all conversations wherever I am, in every context.
Even when I am at home with my family in a relaxed setting, I am in fear thinking about a conversation I had weeks ago with a friend or a teacher. Worrying about what I said, and looking in way too deeply into what they said to the point where I have warped their words into something that is not what they meant at all.
When they say something neutral or nice, I think they have said something negative to me, making me assume that they must hate me.
When really all they could have said was: “Nah I’m too busy on Friday, to catch up with you for coffee. We’ll do it another time.”
And I’ve taken it as: “I don’t wanna catch up with you, where did you get the idea we were friends?”
And that’s the imprisoning part of anxiety.
These constant worries and negative self talk create a prison in my mind.
That prison is a dark and claustrophobic space that constantly critiques everything I say and do. I feel like I am not allowed joy and fulfilment, because that well programmed negative voice in my head will attack me for anything I do.
There is no freedom in how to act with what makes me happy, because I am too afraid of failure, embarrassment and abandonment.
Therefore the well programmed negative self talk in my mind manipulates me to believe that I am not worthy of any love from anyone, because I don’t believe that I deserve any love from myself in the first place.
Oh I’m caught in The Hoax,
An unforgivable curse,
I’m just a passerby in this well worn life.
Oh I’m caught in The Hoax,
The invisible kind,
The one that you don’t like.
It’s the nervous push inside,
Here comes The Hoax.
The ‘Hoax’ in terms of it’s dictionary definition is a scam, and metaphorically for the song it is my anxiety disorder that has followed me through every phase of my life so far. I believe that mental illnesses like anxiety and depression are scams in that they mess with my emotions and state of mind so much, that they hide the real positive aspects of myself from myself. Causing me to see this version of myself that I end up hating, and cutting down, because it manipulates me to believe that the negative version of myself is the real Hayley.
It’s an unforgivable curse because with the anxiety, I feel as if it traps the real me in the back of my mind all due to irrational fears. It hides my real self that deserves a happy life, without the confines it conjures up around me in the form of an invisible prison.
It’s invisible because only I can feel it and understand it. It hides away my injured mental health that has been starved of self-love.
It’s not obvious to others because a sick mental health isn’t as easy to identify since there are no slings, crutches, or bandages to symbolise my struggle. It is all up in my mental processes, and most of the time it can make me feel like I’m going insane.
I struggle to believe on a day to day basis that I could pretend continuing functioning properly like those who seem fine around me. I also wonder why am I suffering from an ill mental health, when I am just a “passerby in this well worn life” just like the rest of those who aren’t affected by ill mental health. I also feel like I have to hide it because it feels like awkward subject matter. Since most people these days (especially those who have had no personal experience with it) don’t really want to understand it or take it seriously. They instead think every worry or sign of sadness needs a logical reason, but anxiety and depression doesn’t work that way.
It’s a life time of programmed negative thought processes and a chemical imbalance in my brain, that creates a very irrationally down version of myself.
At times it can feel like I’m trying to climb out of a hole that continues to get larger no matter how hard I try to climb out. It has also got to the point where some days to be happy I feel like I’m trying to stay afloat on a small raft in the middle of the ocean during a storm, while doing the day to day business of my university schedule.
Returning to the song lyrics, the “nervous push inside” is the monster that sits in on my mind, every moment of every day.
Critiquing and cutting me down at whatever I do or say. Making myself worry to the extent of an unhealthy state of paranoia in day to day activities.
VERSE 2 –
Far from the place you could call safe,
In the mess of my mind I’m questioning my pride.
Oh I’m caught in a blaze, an unreasonable phase.
It’s a silence and a quiet; you can’t hide it.
From the above verse, I am describing the Hoax as a state that wouldn’t be considered sane or healthy, due to the rapid change of emotions and the depression it can evolve into. I feel as if the anxiety has created a huge tangle of emotions, creating bigger confusion in my head causing me to be in a constant state of feeling overwhelmed by everything around me.
“Unreasonable phase” comes from something I feel others would call someone else’s ill mental health. Something a parent would say about their child who acts up from time to time.
In a way when those closest to me have treated my anxiety as something insignificant, it causes me to feel like I am a nuisance to them, which can bring up suicidal thoughts in my mind.
They don’t realise what they’re doing, and they may not initially intend to have that effect on me, but it makes me feel that what I am going through is unreasonable to them causing me to become a burden instead of a loved one to them. When really it is a burden for me to be feeling this way, because I am the one being directly effected.
“It’s a silence” because it feels like a invisible killer that slowly sends me insane, and “it’s a quiet” because it’s a subject that I feel is criticised and ignored by society. In the end it turns into something that is quite hard to hide and continue to keep on pretending as the voice gets louder while everything becomes so overwhelming to the point where the negative self talk in my mind is what I become.
My thoughts are a pack of wild horses that are really tough to control, where negativity over flows in my mind at a natural progression without me even consciously activating it anymore. Activating the self hate, and chipping away at what is left of my self-esteem, while assuming the whole world hates me for some irrational reason.
I feel like I have got to a breaking point, and I can’t hide it all any longer. I have come to the conclusion that I need to escape the Hoax for the sake of the rest of my life I have ahead of me.
The Hoax, The Hoax, The Hoax, I’m running…
The Hoax, The Hoax, The Hoax, I’m running…
The bridge is the resolution, where I realise I need to escape the Hoax. It’s the realisation that this doesn’t have to stay the same for the rest of my life. The second part of the phrase carries the idea of me running, with quicker rhythm used to create some tension/paranoia/eagerness to run from the Hoax.
Or it can hold the meaning that I am ‘running the Hoax’. I am the one causing the Hoax, and that I am finding it hard to let go of the scam that my negative thoughts in my mind want me to give in to.
This section of the song is to symbolise the tension of the breaking point, emphasising the paranoia of letting go of old habits and finally moving on to a life where anxiety and depression don’t have such a massive hold over me.
[cut alternate last CHORUS/not in original recording] –
Oh I’m caught in The Hoax,
The one with the mask and the knife.
You can run if you like,
But you’ll never find what’s beneath this lie.
Here in this chorus that didn’t make it into the original recording of the song, I’m describing my anxiety as a villain with the “mask and the knife”. The mask emphasises the invisibility once again, but in a more personifying fashion that puts my actual enemy in a real human form. The knife are the negative thoughts that cut me down, and in a very similar way is the “nervous push inside”.
The last phrase of the chorus is the anxiety speaking.
Reacting in fear due to being afraid of leaving the comfort and control of my mind, where it currently resides. It just shows that my enemy, my anxiety is really the weaker one because it is more afraid of me ignoring it and taking away it’s power, than the fears it originally injects into my mind.
My #MentalHealthPromise back in 2015 was to escape ‘The Hoax’, and finally get help from a mental health professional. I took the best step forward in helping myself, and improving the state of my mental health. It was the most loving and rewarding decision I have ever made for myself, as it has positively impacted and shaped my life since then.
It has given me a new life to thrive in and I now finally can take the time to enjoy myself in.
So make your #MentalHealthPromise today, whether it be just a simple promise that gives you more quiet time to yourself away from the stress of work or to connect more with others in the community. Or it could be something big in getting help from a mental health professional.
Whatever suits you and your needs!
Take the time to think about what promise you will make for yourself, and do your best to stick to it, for the sake of your life and for whatever else that may come with it. xo